Tag Archives: Interior decorating

Sunday Self-Care: On procrastination

I will never understand why I procrastinate. Putting off a difficult task makes sense. Dreading a challenge makes sense. But altogether too often, I put off projects I really want to do, jobs that will make a big impact when they’re completed, or simple tasks that are likely to take half an hour or less.

Sometimes it’s inadvertent: I make a to-do list for my day off, prioritize it, and then get tired or run out of time and carry the lower-priority jobs over to the next week. If they don’t have deadlines, they end up at the bottom of the next week’s list, too, and the cycle starts all over.

After a few weeks of seeing the same unfinished job on my to-do list, I start to feel overwhelmed. The longer it’s on the list, the more Herculean it starts to look.

If there is an up side to this phenomenon, it’s the exquisite sense of relief I feel when I finally finish the project I’ve been delaying.

I had that feeling this weekend.

About 15 years ago, Ron commissioned a replica of one of the neon swallows that hang above the garages at the Blue Swallow Motel. When we moved here, I had to keep it in storage, because I didn’t have a good way to keep Walter from knocking it down.

Several months ago, I found a vinyl channel that would mount to the wall and keep the cord from dangling and turning my beautiful swallow into a cat toy. All I needed to do was paint it, install it, and hang up the sign.

As usual, one thing led to another, and the neon installation drifted to the bottom of the to-do list until Friday, when I finally got a hand free and forced myself to do the job.

Hello, old friend. I've missed you terribly.
Hello, old friend. I’ve missed you terribly.

It took longer to unpack the swallow than it did to install it.

This piece was the literal light of my life in Belleville, where I’d turn it on and look at its soft argon glow whenever I was depressed and needed a break but couldn’t quite manage a 14-hour road trip to Tucumcari. I denied myself access to that soothing blue light for three months longer than necessary, and I have no idea why.

Lighting the darkness.
Lighting the darkness.

If you’re feeling out of sorts, try turning your to-do list upside-down just long enough to complete that task you’ve been deferring for weeks. I suspect you’ll find the sense of relief and accomplishment that follows will lighten your mood as surely as a neon sign lights up a dark wall.

Emily

Mid-century madness

It’s not quite finished (I still have a set of storage cubes to buy and turn into a quasi-credenza next paycheck and a couch to buy as soon as Ron and I can agree on what constitutes an appropriate price for furniture and an appropriate means of financing it), but my interior-design project is coming along very nicely.

I discovered a problem recently: Because I’m about four inches too tall to sit in it without holding my neck in an awkward angle, my beloved ball chair was contributing to chronic tension headaches.

Fortunately, my nephews think the “Space Chair,” as they call it, is the one of the coolest things in the known universe, so they were more than happy to take it off my hands. My parents came by a week ago and picked it up for them, and a few hours later, I was rewarded with a hilarious photo of Ollie lying in it more or less upside-down, giggling.

I discovered the perfect replacement on Target’s website: a Zuo knockoff of the famous Eames rocking chair.

Look at that fabulous chair. This was before I removed the futon cover and rearranged the furniture.
Look at that fabulous chair. This was before I removed the futon cover and rearranged the furniture.

I also picked up a couple of guitar hangers at Hastings’ going-out-of-business sale. My acoustic guitars are now out of the way, within reach, and pulling double-duty as visual accents on my faux-stucco walls.

We can’t replace the futon just yet, but I removed the Route 66-themed cover to reveal the black pad underneath and threw a falsa blanket over the back to give it more of a Southwestern look, as you can see in the top photo.

Walter approved of this move:

Sleepy kitty is sleepy.
Spoiled cat.

On Friday, Ron and I went wandering around the little antique stores downtown in search of mid-century pieces to go with the rocking chair and living-room tables.

By rearranging the furniture in several rooms, I managed to free up space for a bigger dining table and a couple of shelf units — a small, sturdy bookcase I found at a shop on Main Street, and a 1970s metal, faux-woodgrain shelf I found at a shop on Spanish Street. I filled the wooden shelf with books and started a bunch of herbs and cacti in pots on the metal shelf.

Metal shelves full of potted plants were popular in the ’70s, so to go with them, I went to Annie Laurie’s Antiques and bought a dining set straight out of the early 1970s:

Hello, 1972.
Hello, 1972.

It needed an appropriate centerpiece, so I recycled an old wooden salad bowl into a miniature cactus garden:

The bowl has a crack in it, but it works just fine as a planter.
The bowl has a crack in it, but it works just fine as a planter.

I still have a couple more little projects to do, but I’m really pleased with how this is all turning out.

Emily

Interior decorating

This summer has been a bit of a roller coaster, especially in terms of my health (nothing scary, but a series of minor maladies that were just enough to cramp my style and drain my energy), and I just started to feel better about a week ago.

I took the day off Tuesday to finish up a project I started in April but haven’t had time to work on much because of the aforementioned health issues.

As I mentioned last winter, the drywall work in our house left a lot to be desired. I repaired the cracks and did textured paint jobs in the bedroom and office, but I got tired of messing with joint compound and sanding screens and decided to try a technique my friend Erin told me about, in which you tear contractor paper into random shapes, crumple it, smooth it back out, and apply it to the wall using wallpaper paste, overlapping the edges of the pieces.

Left brown, the paper ends up looking like soft leather; painted, it resembles stucco. Either way, it conceals a lot of flaws and obviates the necessity of repairing someone else’s sloppy drywall work.

The leather look was really too dark to use in rooms as small as ours, but given my fondness for Southwestern architecture, stucco seemed about right. I did the dining room in late April or early May, but I didn’t get a chance to finish the living room until this week. Here are a few photos:

Here's a look at the paper technique. Each piece is torn, crumpled, uncrumpled, and applied to the wall with paste and a smoothing tool.
Here’s a look at the paper technique. Each piece is torn, crumpled, uncrumpled, and applied to the wall with paste and a smoothing tool.

The process is time-consuming, but it hides a lot of flaws.
The process is time-consuming, but it hides a lot of flaws.

The paper will start to bubble after you hang it. DON'T PANIC. It will settle down and smooth out as it dries.
The paper will start to bubble after you hang it. DON’T PANIC. It will settle down and smooth out as it dries.

Ignore the clutter. I didn't bother putting the room completely back together when I knew I'd be painting soon.
Ignore the clutter. I didn’t bother putting the room completely back together when I knew I’d be painting soon.

Here’s how it looked once it was painted:

As with the paste, the paint will make the paper bubble while it's wet. As with the paste, it will settle down. I panicked a little bit before I discovered that.
As with the paste, the paint will make the paper bubble while it’s wet. As with the paste, it will settle down. I panicked a little bit before I discovered that.

I like how that short little hall looks with all my family pictures hanging there.
I like how that short little hall looks with all my family pictures hanging there.

The paint is "La Fonda Terra Cotta," from Valspar's National Trust for Historic Preservation line. I love it.
The paint is “La Fonda Terra Cotta,” from Valspar’s National Trust for Historic Preservation line. I love it.

The color is a little yellow here because the lighting was odd, but you get the idea.
The color looks a little yellow here because the lighting was odd, but you get the idea.

I really like that terra-cotta color. It looks very Southwestern and makes the whole room feel warm and inviting.

I’m hoping to replace the futon with a loveseat as soon as I can find something suitably mid-century. That room is just too small for big furniture.

Emily